Quetta Gladiators are propping up the Pakistan Super League (PSL) standings and the franchise believes a tiring travel schedule has contributed to their dismal performance so far.
The reigning champions have picked up just three wins from their eight matches to sit at the bottom of the charts and facing an uphill task to reach the playoffs.
And Gladiators’ owner Nadeem Omar minced no words in terming their travel schedule “unfair”.
“We have been airborne most of the time with other teams getting ample rest in between games,” Nadeem told to Dawn’s correspondent.
We have no home ground alright but a temporary home ground could have been allotted to keep the team at one of the host cities of Karachi, Lahore, Multan or Rawalpindi for a longer period.
“Frequent travel, insufficient rest and practice opportunities have reflected on the team’s performance which was better in the first phase when it was in Karachi.”
Quetta won two of their opening three matches in Karachi but after winning their first match in Rawalpindi, their next three games saw them go to Multan and Lahore before returning to Rawalpindi within the space of six days.
Their last outing was in Lahore on Saturday and they play their next game there against table-toppers Multan Sultans on Wednesday before ending their round-robin play in Karachi against Karachi Kings on Sunday.
Asked why the franchise hadn’t raised these issues prior to the start of the season, Nadeem said their protests were of no avail.
“Initially when our manager [Azam Khan] shared the travel itinerary, I thought every team was facing the same schedule but we only realised later that we were the most-affected team,” he said. “We’ve spent hours on airports, travelled on army aircrafts and have not even got a chance to hold proper practice sessions in the last 10-12 days.
“Our supporters are heartbroken and say that we are offering excuses but I think for our family of supporters they need to know the truth. We are still fighting and need prayers, the Gladiators will rise with your support.”
A Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) official, meanwhile, said Gladiators’ tough schedule was down to a lot of reasonable issues.
“The entire PSL in Pakistan was a large scale challenge and matters will definitely improve in the future,” the official said.
“Availability of venues, aircraft tickets, accommodation and host of other logistical issues were there. The concerns raised by the Gladiators weren’t dismissed outright and the board tried its best to manage it as amicably as possible.”
Originally Published in Dawn, March 11th, 2020